Four founders reached out last week asking about building products with a video streaming component. These are subscription platforms that either focused entirely on streaming or had streaming as a major component. Some of these were specialized Netflix-esque content platforms while others were platforms like Coursera where video streaming was one part of a much larger whole. In both cases, the streaming considerations for early stage companies and founders remain the same.

The purpose of writing this is to remove some of the obfuscation surrounding  streaming platforms and arm founders with knowledge of building a VOD platform entails.

We're gonna cover the decisions they can expect to make so that can speak intelligently with their development partners with the goal of building something for scalability while remaining lean. The content coming up applies to all major over the top (OTT)/streaming business models including subscriber video on delivery (SVOD), advertising video on delivery (AVOD) or transactional video on delivery (TVOD).

This is going to be a 4 part series. In the first three parts we’ll cover the three most important build vs buy decisions founders will make when building streaming product, and how to evaluate options and make decisions intelligently.

Part 1: Storage (and correspondingly upload)
Part 2: Distribution
Part 3: Playback

In part 4, we’ll cover two special cases of streaming - streaming VR content and live-streaming.

Storage and Upload

When we think of video streaming we’re typically going to be uploading content between 1 and 15 GB. For these components our major cost considerations will be the cost of data transfer per GB and the cost of storage per GB. We’ll also only consider the first 50TB of data for simplicity.

We’re going to use  Platform as a Service (PaaS) providers like AWS, Google Could and Microsoft Azure instead of pre-packaged solutions to save the founder as much money as possible. All three of the major PaaS providers have storage solutions. They all have their respective upload services.

Before going into this, I have to make clear a controversial assumption we’re going to make. Ready? Here goes - all three of the major providers provide a similar level of service. Ready to bring out the pitchforks? Get over it. There might have a been a time 10 years ago where there were serious service difference between the three. It’s no longer the case. In our application, for dumb data storage, they’re the same.

AWS owns the 800 pound gorilla (and most of the market) with S3, short for Simple Storage Service. Google Cloud has Cloud Storage. And finally, Microsoft Azure has Azure Blob Storage.

Let’s compare pricing:


Cost of Data Transfer: $0.09 Per GB
Cost of Storage (First 50 TB): $0.023 Per GB
Cost of Upload: Free

Google Cloud

Cost of Data Transfer: $.0.12  per GB
Cost of Storage (First 50 TB):  $0.02 per GB
Cost of Upload:  Free

Azure Blob Storage

Cost of Data Transfer: Free
Cost of Storage (First 50 TB): $0.0208 per GB
Cost of Upload: Free

Azure clearly seems to come out ahead in terms of pricing. However, AWS has a serious advantage because it’s the market leader. That means that  many CDN services already have build-in integrations connecting their network with client’s S3 buckets. While it’s possible to replicate this functionality for Azure or Google Cloud, the minuscule price difference isn’t worth development effort. That means, in the end, using s3 is going to be cheaper for you as a founder even though azure costs less.

So for our streaming app, we’ll be using AWS’s S3 as our storage and upload solution.

Do you want us to build you a kick ass VOD platform? Reach out to me at